Monday, January 16, 2012

War Horse

The only reason for this title is that I saw the movie tonight and it was moving. I always get fidgety during the training parts of movies like that, but I am trying to learn to just enjoy the gift of suspension of disbelief.

These movies are most enjoyable for me because I often see in the horse the marvelous characteristics of my horses. I think it is a horse person disease that when we see horses--at a show, a clinic, in a movie--we wish ours were with us. It made me wish Blu and Misty were with me. Sometimes you wish they were there so you could patch things up with them. Other times you wish they were there because you know that the great things inspiring you in that moment are within a stone's throw and you only need your horses there to complete the puzzle.

After Sunday and Monday play sessions with Blu, I was definitely feeling the latter of the two.

Yesterday, I was a little tardy to the barn and ended up with a lot of time with Blu by myself as the rest of the people were done and leaving.

Apparently, before I arrived, he was quite excitable. Looking back, I think it was because he could sense the snow coming. I am telling you, that horse gets so excited about snow, it is not an unlikely hypothesis.

We played some more with the telescopic pole. He had sideways to and away going well without fear!

When we were doing a circling game, he took off and was bucking and tossing his head. This was not quite the same kind of "eeee, I can't do that" leaving from before. I ran with him and we ended up back at the barn. I asked for zone 5 driving and we haphazardly wove through the columns.

When we were done, I put him on line; this was an entirely different animal leaving for entirely different reasons. He was flipping me the bird!

On the 22 foot line, we played the circling game. I only asked for the trot. He had nice flexion and slack in the line. I played with his change of direction at the halt before I put on his bridle and played the game of contact with him.

The game of contact was really exciting. It was so cool to watch him figure out that reins meant go. I ended when he took a step forward from a halt into the contact.

Blu is superb at stretching into the contact. He is also quick to relax. He did a lot of blowing out. We are going to have so much fun with this!

Today, I almost missed my window to play with Blu today. We had a blizzard dumping on us all morning and most of the afternoon, so I was waiting it out, hoping it would slow down before the day was over.

My neighbor is the one who prodded me about it and when I looked outside and saw it was quiet (finally!), I hopped on out.

All the horses were in the arena when I got to the barn. I called to Blu and he perked up. The next time I called him, he headed up. The other horses followed.

I wanted to play on the 22' line instead of at liberty because the snow tends to give Blu a bug up his butt and I knew that it would be better to have him on line if that happened.

We played the circling game for the first time since that weekend with all the huffing and puffing and would be dust (if it weren't for the snow and ice). Well, it was the first time on line since that weekend.

At first, when I asked for the canter, Blu got really tight and kept trotting. I learned something here, because where before I would have said "Aha, I am not being effective, let me get closer," I recognized that he was already under enough pressure. What he needed, was for me to wait. So I kept on with the swinging of the stick and came out of neutral with a cantering body. As soon as he cantered, I went to neutral and asked him to walk. The next time, he did not need me to canter, but I did have to keep swinging for a while. Next time, he did not need me to keep swinging so long. Then, he did not even need the stick.

Granted, I was asking for the walk as soon as he gave me a canter. The first time I accepted a sort of harumph little leap of the canter. I noticed that he was shaking his head at first--a sign of confidence. I think that is interesting with all of the tension. I think that it means that he was not worried that I was going to go stronger with my phases, but I think he was expecting I would and daring me to do it. "Make my day" sort of. Instead, I did just the opposite. And the moment he gave me what I was asking for, I quit.

Even better, I was finished before he spiraled. He was great when we were done with the circling game.

I took his halter off and began to play with the Spanish walk a bit. We have the pawing bit down, now we need suspension. He learned so quickly to hold his leg up and suspend it. Next will be to stretch it out.

It was so nice to be quiet with him after that. There is great satisfaction to be had when you end on a good note. Ryan's advice to keep the sessions very short popped into my mind.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Progress with Experiment

This week did not really work out the way I had hoped because lunch never found me playing with Blu. However, it did deliver some great experiences, though. I answer the horsemanship questions and learn a lot through that. I was very excited to hear back from Kristi Smith about last weekend's discovery of following Blu when he left me during liberty and turning it into  zone five driving. Her response made me feel affirmed in what I was doing and excited to keep going.

Today, I introduced Blu to the telescoping pole. At first, after an initial meeting, when I put it under his head to go from one side to the other he shot back and turned and ran. I reestablished connection and began the friendly game again. He became curious and started to push on the stick and nibble on the bag on the end. It took us a while, but when I closed the stick, I could put it over his head without it bothering him and shake it about to the sides without it bothering him. Going over the head took a lot of approach and retreat. We did not get it to where he could handle it going under his chin; that includes by his front feet and at his chest.

I played with his spins and he was not leaving. I gave him long pauses to process. I used a lot of contact with the savvy string/carrot stick to maintain a connection at first, then I reduced the stick. By the end of the session, it got to be more of a suggestion and less of a tell. I could send him, spin around myself, and he would be facing me.

The first time he left was during a circling game after a change of direction. I went with him and turned it into driving from zone 5. Again, it was really nice zone 5 driving.

Unfortunately/fortunately, I did not get to practice the zone 5 driving as much today because he only left once. That's a huge improvement. Looks like it's time to start upping the ante. Tomorrow I am going aim at the trot on the circle a bit more and cantering stick to me.

An observation I made was the feeling of the velcro NOT ripping apart, even though Blu wasn't moving. I was surprised at the solidarity of that feeling. Blu wasn't moving, but I could tell he was thinking and would respond once he decided what he should do in response. It's different from when he might just stand there and shut down/disconnect. This processing was super cool!

I asked Blu to go sideways away from me, which he did, but when I changed gears to sideways toward, he kept going away. I probably could have asked him to stop first and had more success, but I just drifted with him until he found the answer. We played with his responsiveness and he knowing if it was a draw or a send sideways. Once I had Blu going sideways to and away, I combined it with a spin. He did a spin and then I drew him in the opposite direction of the spin to me and sideways. It took the entire length of the paddock for him to even go with front and hind.

Then we ran/cantered to the top of the paddock, stopped and backed up.

It was a nice end, so I sat with Maree and we talked while Blu stood over us.

I am excited to see what tomorrow's session is like!
Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Natural Power of You-Know-What

Staying focused on a goal is only difficult when you allow the rest of the world to dictate what you focus on. It is only in charging headlong into the fray of the world that you find the true path that will lead to the achievement of your heart's aspiration.

The meaning I hope to impart here is that goals set aside will not develop themselves. If you stop pushing toward it, remove the fibers of your focus from it, "it" will not happen. No matter how set on something you may have been at the onset of the goal, if you have allowed the world to steal away your attentions, you have allowed the world to steal away your dreams.

I took a giant leap of faith this summer when I left my parents in Iowa at the top of a very steep driveway with an empty horse trailer. That was me focused on my goals of taking another step--a big one--toward becoming a great horsewoman and a great teacher and professor of horsemanship.

The whole summer was filled with leaps of faith, sudden changes, and stepping up to the plate even when it was terrifying to do so. At the end of the summer came the greatest leap of faith I have ever taken; I took a job with Parelli Natural Horsemanship instead of returning home to Michigan.

At the time, I was still hoping to go to an externship, though not sure when because the course I had planned to take was cancelled that fall and I had no idea how I would come up with the money for the next summer's. I took the job knowing two things: this was a part of my own unique path toward my goal; and I could not let myself allow this to consume my original aspiration.

Having worked at Parelli for almost four months, I know that there was a great stretch of time where I struggled to take care that the origins of my reason for being here were not drown out by the very leap of faith I had taken to grow closer to the goal. Even now, I am balancing out reaching my dreams and giving Parelli the greatest service I am capable of.

Several weeks ago, I made another quantum leap of faith by deciding firmly in my heart that I will attend the July 2012 externship and become a 2-Star Parelli Professional. The path is still unclear, but every day I experience great clarity in where I am going. By having that unwavering focus, now, I see how fuzzy my vision was before. The world had taken over and caused me to slow down. I stopped the charge into the fray.

Now that my dream is more real to me than it has ever been, I am excited to share the concept of how your choices in position as a proponent or neutral state for the achievement of your dearest aspiration is critical to the realization of your dreams. If you make no choice, it is just as bad as making the choice to decide to relinquish the right to ever savor the taste of the success you once envisioned.

Keep driving and eventually, you will find yourself no longer in Iowa skidding down the steepest driveway you have ever witnessed with a bumper pull filled with two horses swinging behind you. Instead you will be in the mountains under the most glorious sky riding the beautiful horse who trusted you enough to follow you out there. . .

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Horsemanship is cyclic in the path; you learn, you grow, you find incompetence at some level, learn, and grow. Hopefully, you don't have many runs of static amongst that cycle because static horsemanship is really just rotting horsemanship. When you stop learning, growing, changing, the journey suffers; it begins to slowly slip downhill because your horse and you need the presence of new challenges in order to thrive.

I am so glad when I feel the incompetence pop up in my awareness because then I know that my horsemanship journey is still kicking. It's even better when I feel us growing because of course that is the fruit of the struggle; the reason that you pushed on.

Today we were growing and I realized a level of incompetence. Weee!

Blu tagged along while I was picking the paddock. It was good that he was hanging out with me.

When I came out with just a carrot stick, I decided to stay in the dry paddock with Blu instead of going to the arena. We proceeded to play at liberty. I tested his "velcro" and sometimes it ripped. We were playing with his spins and once when I encouraged him, it was too much and he shot off. Another time it ripped was when we I asked for the trot on his close circles.

Once things were getting more solid with the circles, sideways, and spins, I began to combine them. After each combination I gave him an appropriate amount of processing time. During the combinations, it felt so GOOD!

I ended the first session with me sitting on the fence for a while with Blu.

I came back and continued to play. We did sideways to and away in me and my shadow, played with forward and backward, trotting liberty circles, spins, pizazzy stuff with his mane as a "line" and more combining.

When it felt like it couldn't get any better, we stopped. It was during a cutting game that Blu was really digging into the dirt with. It was awesome.

I talked with my friend Maree and at one time Blu pawed. I sent him around in a circle and when he got to Maree, he got stuck and decided to leave. It took him quite a while to come back, but Maree and I just chatted away.

The incompetence was my velcro with Blu and knowing where the limit is so I can stretch it and retreat. Also, Blu's expression was sometimes tight, so I grew by using the quit on the exact expression I wanted and when he was moving through his body. This was really illustrated when Blu was trotting next to me and he was tight under the neck and mouth. I put my hand on his neck as we went along. When he put his head down, I quit.

So, we were growing today. It's good to be in such a state when I know the great heights that we are growing up toward.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Poetic Interest

A plan in mind, I went down the hill
Blu was following but suddenly stood still

He turned around when he saw where we were going
So I followed him back up with a smile of knowing

It was that arena we had done so much work in;
The place I had calmly gone berserk in

Clarity came and I used very little assertion to say
"Don't worry brother, I'm okay and you'll be okay"

When we got to the threshold that had to dissolve
I gave him a carrot, a vegetable he loves

Now he had interest vested
And his skepticism was bested

To instill confidence the best pattern is touch it
And carrots made it better because such is

Blu's nature when we involve food
He recalled this game and the game got good

Blu touched a pan, a chain, and a ground pole
With zeal and glow that in turn touches my soul

To see him so vivid and vibrantly motivated
I knew it was time to stop before he was satiated

Because then we would find ourselves back at square one
No, this way tomorrow he won't start out ready to be done

Blu followed me back into the barn where I groomed him
To free him of all the dirt that has completely consumed him

What a good pony, Blu is truly sweet
I cannot wait till tomorrow when again we meet

I must be getting to sleep now, and so good night
Natural Horsewoman Out

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Snapshot of a Good Horse

Due to various circumstances, Blu has had two days of not seeing me during my lunch period. It is my belief that it was best that way, though. It gave Blu some time to recuperate from my crazy "horsemanship" this weekend.

Today I only had 15 minutes with him to brush him before I fed the horses and picked the paddock. Grooming is a fantastic therapy and I sometimes like to spend the time visualizing some great thing we will do together. However, I think it is better for my horse when I am present with him. Today I was there in the barn with him, mind, body, and soul.

I put love into getting him clean. Maybe it was also a little symbolic because I brushed dried all sweat off his chest as well. Now he has a lovely (kind of) coat--clean and fresh...

As Blu munched away, I knew that this was a beautiful snapshot of what a good horse Blu is. I bring him into the barn and let him eat and our communication is so soft; we have such a great language together, I think. It was my way of apologizing and his way of telling me that nothing has changed between us--we are still buddies.

I am glad I did not have time to "do" anything with him. We had a beautiful time enjoying one another's presence. When I look back on what I learned in the past week, I hope I always remember how it ended with what a good horse I have as a partner and the language we share.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Metamorphosis Part One

Today we were all happy at work. I have a lot of work to do, but there was no overwhelming feeling. It just was and I was the best me that I could be. At the end of the day, I began a deep clean of my work space in effort of getting my best me better. We will see how it helps in the next week or so.

It felt like I was in the midst of a before the dawn moment. Everything feels like it is on the edge of something much greater than I ever anticipated could happen. The seams of my life are beginning to tear as a metamorphosis comes to a grand finale. Potential is almost tangible as the vision of what could be comes closer to what is in so many facets of my life.

Who knows how long the finale will last before the completed me is rendered. That is why this post is only part one. If my future self can remember, which I plan on it, I will be able to write a part two.

I would like to take a moment to revisit where I came from because my anniversary with Parelli came and went without notice. That's not the true beginning, but there is logic to starting there. I immediately wanted to become a Parelli Professional and I felt like with this program, I would do everything I ever dreamed of. Going through the homestudy courses, I felt the high every day of the new knowledge.

Fast forward a bit and I decided that I would go to a course. I overcame the financial wall in front of me then empowered myself by proving that I could do things by myself by going to the 2010 Performance Summit--that was significant to me as a college student living at home. I flew further from home than I had ever been by myself--actually further than I had ever been.

At the Summit, on the campus I would learn on in less than a year, I soaked in the feeling of it all. I pictured Blu in the pens, I pictured sending mind pictures to Misty when I got there with Blu.

The Summit also opened up the windows to the kind of people I could count on in this journey. Even as an independent person, the experience instilled in me the belief that beautiful people would come into my life and support me if I needed it.

Of course there were many other factors to my learning what I was capable of and many people who affirmed the beautiful people belief.  Credit to those, now. I am thanking you in this very moment.

I made a plan in my heart and it manifested itself as a plan in my mind that I would graduate my fast track, work in the corporate office, then take my Externship and become a two star Parelli Professional. Amazingly, that is what is happening, as unlikely as it may have seemed and even though things are not unfolding HOW I thought they would.

Fast forward to where I stand now, I still have the same heart plan and my mind is beginning to see a little of how we are going to get there. I did not know how much my heart's plan would be fulfilled. That's where the metamorphosis comes in.

My dream is to be an amazing leader in whatever I do. Somewhere along the way between the books I have read, the people I have met, and the animals I have touched, I became the strong person I am today. It looks like my dream is no dream at all; it is a full reality.

I would like to invite you to go after your dreams. I promise the only noun standing in your way is you. I am going to keep sharing here the metamorphosis that is happening in me as I run full tilt at achieving my dreams.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Drooling in His Sleep

Today was a very interesting realization day for me.

Before coming to the barn, I watched three parts of the circling game problem solving sections in the Liberty and Horse Behavior Parelli DVD course. They were on fixing draw due to confidence issues, using change of direction when the horse breaks gait as a means of using psychology to maintain gait, and sending him strong when he comes in with yucky expression. The third one does not really apply as an example of what Blu has been doing lately, but it was a BFO for me in the matter of quitting and an application of making when it comes to the horse coming to you.

My plan was to do some sideways from zone five with two line driving. Then I would ask for the circling game and improve it by one percent in less than five minutes, then QUIT!

When I got there, Blu seemed fatigued, though. He was also drooling. When I asked him to go from zone five it took him a few minutes to figure out what to do; I waited for the lick and chew, but after another minute, he had gone completely away and catatonic.

I waited but after fifteen minutes I took the lines off and sat on a barrel some twenty feet away. On the barrel I was thinking about Blu and Misty and wonderful things we had done together and would do in the future. Every now and then I would check on the Blu in front of me. His eyes were closed and his head was down.

It occurred to me that I might be too close so I went to the furthest corner of the arena and looked out into the woods. Five minutes later I heard Blu leaving. I was glad that he was moving and I didn't care where he was going, but he stopped and looked at me, wavered his line of direction toward me for a step then changed his mind and continued on toward the barn.

This was really significant because I could see how far he had been pushed the past two days and how much distance I had to put between us for him to feel it was okay to leave.

I will see him tomorrow to resume the conversation--or, as it were, to begin a new conversation.

Blu and I are going to have a great time during our next session because there has never been a time before today that I did not take his leaving personally. I realize where he is coming from and know what we need to do to continue on together as partners. I understand him!

I made a few check off lists for the future and know that we will journey through those lists admirably because of this milestone of emotional fitness in the face of a horse in catatonia.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Resolutions

I learned today.

Blu taught me about how to be a better quitter.
The Thackers taught me about how I can reverse my train of thought and do whatever I do with love.
I taught myself that I can.

My resolutions, which I recorded last night--rather, early this morning--are as follows:

  1. feel happy every day
  2. be beautiful in all ways
  3. go to the externship in July
  4. get to level 4 before that externship
  5. spread my joy
  6. become a great leader
  7. Parelli Connect, Facebook, Blog, and Twitter
  8. become a 2* Parelli Professional
  9. walk with God
  10. make a difference in people's lives`inspire them to do the same
" I am going to go to sleep tonight [and every night] feeling as though I have already attained, accomplished, and mastered."

As I was making breakfast and cleaning the kitchen (straight of bed and into the kitchen) for the guests while everyone else went on as they wished, I thought gosh, right off the bat I am having trouble being happy. I have to change this right now. So I replaced my impending bitterness with love and appreciation. I appreciated that I was living in this house with this family and had these friends. I continued my work with love for those I was serving. It felt so good--and familiar. That's usually how I feel when I am cleaning and working. Having experience with both emotions, I would say it is much better to feel the love and appreciation instead of the bitterness (yuck!).

A hot air balloon landed in the yard. That was cool and kind of irrelevant to this post.

Blu is doing really well at zone 5 driving and he is a doll at liberty. Circling is where he is teaching me, right now. I thought I had a good strategy for quitting at the right time. Two days in a row, though, that has lead to Blu being very tired and sweaty.

What I envision is him cantering in balance, 45' away, for however many laps I ask. Instead, Blu is flying at the end of the line, trotting, hardly able to maintain the canter. I really need a round pen, but when he gives me what I want, I bring him right in. Game over. Except that I send him back out again after a rest to see if he can get the right answer faster.

Now that it has happened two days in a row, I am going to quit RIGHT AWAY, GAME OVER when he makes that little change tomorrow. We won't even go there.

I thought I was okay with continuing, even keeping quitting at the right time in mind. Now, I know better.

I said Blu is sweet at liberty because he really is. He is a real partner. I was honored that he was following me around even after my mistakes. There is most certainly so much hope for us yet!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

About Me

My photo
I am a young horsewoman with a million things on my mind. I have been a student of the horse all my life. As a little girl, I had a desire to understand horses on deeper levels. I believed that there was no such thing as a bad horse, and I believed that all horses were beautiful. One might say that I was a naive child, but I guess I don't have an excuse anymore, because I still believe all of that, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship is helping expand on this perspective.

What We Are Currently Playing With

  • Moving Close Circles at Liberty
  • Soft, Balanced Canter on 45' Line
  • Zone 5 Driving